Only four more days to keep Ballet San Jose alive

Ballet San Jose danced their heart out last month in a dazzling, ambitious program of iconic American works by Balanchine, Robbins and Tharp, of which we wrote:

The company, with an infusion of new, youthful talent from Cuba, China, and points beyond – imported by the charismatic José Manuel Carreño, now a little over a year at the artistic helm of the Silicon Valley troupe – is dancing with elegance and great chutzpah.

Annali Rose and Kendall Teague in Jessica Lang's Eighty-One (Photo: Robert Shomler)

Annali Rose and Kendall Teague in Jessica Lang’s Eighty-One (Photo: Robert Shomler)


This month, however, as the company rehearses a new, whiz bang, high tech mixed bill, the company is fighting for its life.


It has dodged many bullets since its first incarnation as Cleveland Ballet back in 1976. Well-heeled ballet-lovers in San Jose helped to keep the company afloat in the mid 80’s when it was having money troubles, via a joint venture that saw dancers commuting between the two cities for 15 years. When Cleveland crumbled altogether in 2000, the San Jose presenters carved the present incarnation out of the wreckage.

But the company’s financial woes were far from over, and disharmony within board and management mushroomed. Apocalypse was averted, even after company co-founder and long time Artistic Director Dennis Nahat – famous for his lavish productions, and widely considered to be the heart and soul of Cleveland Ballet and its successor company – was inelegantly booted in 2012.

The board’s decision to appoint the Cuban superstar Carreño to the role of Artistic Director a little over a year ago appears to have been highly popular among both dancers and audiences.

(The company recently noted that legal action brought by Nahat “was fully settled under confidential terms in August 2014. While the transition from the former to the current direction was a financial strain on the company, there is no direct correlation to our current financial situation.”)

The current emergency has necessitated an appeal for $550,000 by March 14th – of which about half has already been raised in the past few days. If the company does not reach its goal, it will most likely fold.

Longer term, it is aiming for a strategic fundraising of $3.5 million, which would “complete the repositioning and turnaround of the company by October 2015,” at which time the company intends to rebrand itself as Ballet Silicon Valley and roam beyond the borders of the city of San Jose.

Will the tech billionaires of Palo Alto, Mountain View and Santa Clara succumb to the temptations of Balanchine, Philip Glass, and the hot new choreographers the company is intent on promoting?

It’s widely believed that a taste for the arts must be instilled at a young age. If you were not taken to see dance as a kid, it’s unlikely you will suddenly develop a passion for Petipa once you’ve taken your first start-up public and are looking to do something cool for the planet.

But let’s prove that theory wrong…

Check out what Ballet San Jose is doing to celebrate the digital age with Bodies of Technology at San Jose’s California Theatre on March 27 – 29. “We’re bringing musicians, dancers and technologists together in two world premieres that will make us think about what it means to be human in this transformative time,” says Carreño of the brand new works by Amy Seiwert and Yuri Zhukov. “The focus was really on bringing technology into the fold, since our company is based in Silicon Valley.” The third piece on the program is a revival of Jessica Lang’s coolly electrifying Eighty-One, which premiered to glowing reviews in 2013.

– Make it happen: HERE. –

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One thought on “Only four more days to keep Ballet San Jose alive

  1. Wonderful news from Ballet San Jose – the company has exceeded its fundraising goal, raising $640,000 including a $105,000 emergency grant from the city of San Jose. Looks like Silicon Valley will continue to host a world-class ballet company.

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